COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Al Simmons was one of the more recognizable hitters in the major leagues from 1924-44. His patented batting stance -- where he stepped toward the dugout when making an approach at the oncoming ball -- earned him the nickname “Bucketfoot Al.”
That unorthodox stance also resulted in a .334 career batting average, 12 100-RBI seasons and a reputation as one of the game’s best hitters.
Seventy-two years ago this week, however, the 15-year American League veteran was sold to the National League’s Boston Bees.
Simmons enjoyed a successful 1938 season with the Senators – his fourth AL team – hitting 21 home runs while driving in 95 RBI in 125 games. Showing no signs of aging, his 21 home runs was his best total in the past six years. In his two seasons with the Senators, Simmons hit .291 while collecting 179 RBI.
But age began to take its toll, and Simmons – then 36 – played just one season for Boston appearing in 93 games. He went on to play for three more teams in five years retiring after the 1944 season and ending a 20-year Major League career.
Early on in his playing days, Bucketfoot Al won back-to-back batting titles in 1930 and ’31, leading the Philadelphia A’s the second and third of three straight AL pennants. Simmons became a favorite of future Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack, and under his guidance was able to collect a gaudy .356 average during his stay with the A’s.
“I’ve always classified him next to Ty Cobb as the best hitter I saw,” former Philadelphia A’s teammate Cy Perkins said. “He could hit to all fields.”
Simmons finished his career with 2,927 hits and 1,827 RBI, highlighted by a streak where he hit over .300 with 100-plus RBI in 11 consecutive seasons. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953.
Simmons passed away May 26, 1956.
Matt Kramer was the 2010 public relations fall intern at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum